By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Throughout the season, Stillwater High School volleyball coach Jason Webber has preached one thing — keeping an even keel, no matter what happens.
That could be a little more difficult as Jenks visits Pioneer Fieldhouse for Senior Night Thursday in what will likely be a night filled with emotions.
“It will be kind of sad,” Stillwater senior Sarah Carpenter said. “That’s how Senior Night is — everyone’s a little emotional. But I think we’re all just excited to go out there and play.”
“There’s going to be a lot of emotions and a lot of remembering all the things that have gone on in the few years of the program,” Webber said. “It’s going to be tough and require a little bit of maturity from those seniors and other members.”
Maturity hasn’t typically been a problem for the Lady Pioneers. Carpenter and Carley Geer — the team’s two co-captains — have been the emotional rocks of the team since the beginning of the season, rarely getting caught up in the emotions of any match.
In fact, if it were up to them, they might not even want to be recognized — opting instead to just go play volleyball.
“That’s the thing about having seniors,” Webber said. “Even with all the emotion and everybody celebrating and remembering the past, usually they’re the more mature ones that are able to work through that quickly and get back to business.”
And when it comes to playing Jenks (18-8), Carpenter has made no bones about it — Stillwater (13-15) will mean business Thursday.
“It is good to enjoy the moment, but in the end it is about the game after all the festivities,” Carpenter said. “We’ll just have to have a little mental adjustment, and we’ll have the rest of our team who aren’t seniors to get us back in that mode before game time. I think we’re going to adjust well.”
They’re going to have to adjust well if they want to win in their final regular season game on the home court.
Jenks enters the game as the No. 5 team in Class 6A and could easily be one of the top two or three teams in the state by the time the season is finished. But after already beating No. 4 Tulsa Union earlier in the week — aided by the play of senior Maggie Ireton and Morgan Wheatley — Webber is already expecting a not-to-be-missed classic.
“At any time they can be at top five team or a top 10 team,” Webber said. “If they bring their A game and we bring ours, I’m thinking it will probably go five sets. If either team doesn’t bring their A game, it will probably be a quick three.”
Focus has been the mantra of the team since practice started in early August. Even for someone like Geer, who has been through Senior Night three different times in her varsity career, focus will still be a challenge.
But it’s that familiar routine — standing next to Carpenter on the back row, watching Ireton and Wheatley take their swings on the ball and just being in the huddle — where Webber’s hoping those years of training will pay off.
“Carley’s gone through three Senior Nights, watching the ones before her,” Webber said. “For Sarah, Morgan and Maggie, it’ll be their second. They pretty much know what the routine is and I think they’ll handle it just fine.”